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South Bend, Notre Dame to focus on 'smart solutions' for city

SOUTH BEND - A wireless network to be tested downtown? The city working with Notre Dame engineers and mathematicians to revitalize waterways and neighborhoods?

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is joining White House officials Monday afternoon to introduce the MetroLab Network.

The MetroLab Network brings together local governments and university researchers to come up with "smart solutions" for city problems.

South Bend is teaming up with Notre Dame, and is one of about two dozen participants including Pittsburgh, Chicago and New York City.

South Bend and Notre Dame plan to address several projects over the next year.

We're continuing to follow this story and will have more on WSBT 22 First at Four.

The following release was issued by the mayor's office on Monday morning:

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto will join officials from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to introduce the MetroLab Network at a White House event at 2 pm today, Monday, September 14.

The MetroLab Network brings together local governments and university researchers to address urban needs. The City of South Bend, in partnership with the University of Notre Dame, is one of about two dozen participants. Other partnerships include the City of Pittsburgh with Carnegie Mellon University, the City of Chicago with the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, and the City of New York with New York University.

“South Bend is honored to be among a select group of cities asked to participate in the White House Smart Cities Forum,” says Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “By joining forces, local governments and academic researchers can craft innovative solutions for cities across America.”

The MetroLab Network will enable university-city partnerships to share their projects and results, disseminating promising solutions to support widespread adoption across the country.

“We’re focused on piloting research projects in multiple areas to determine where the South Bend-Notre Dame partnership can have the greatest impact,” says Santiago Garces, chief innovation officer for the City of South Bend. “The MetroLab Network will allow solutions developed in South Bend and other cities to be shared in the most efficient way, providing data on what works best to address common urban issues.”

The vision for South Bend’s participation is laid out in a joint letter signed by Mayor Buttigieg and Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins. As part of the MetroLab Network, the City of South Bend and Notre Dame commit to work together on these projects over the course of the year:

- Bowman Creek Project: In collaboration with Notre Dame’s College of Engineering, work will continue toward revitalizing this impaired tributary to the St. Joseph River, developing sensors, systems, and analyses that contribute to cleaner water and green infrastructure.

- Neighborhood Report Card: Building on the City’s Vacant and Abandoned initiative, the Office of Innovation will work with the Notre Dame Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics to develop a methodology to classify neighborhoods based on 200 indicators to understand where they stand relative to city, state, and national benchmarks. The resulting “report card” will be used by the City to inform policy decisions, including the allocation of revitalization funds.

- Community-Based Research Course: Along with Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, the City’s Innovation Office is hosting a seminar to introduce students to community-based research. The focus is on vacant land and property conditions to help identify, prioritize, plan, and measure the impact of neighborhood improvement projects.

- Wireless Institute: Notre Dame’s Electrical Engineering faculty, in conjunction with the City’s Office of Innovation, are developing a wireless network to be tested in downtown South Bend.

“This South Bend-Notre Dame partnership represents an opportunity to use new technologies and ideas to deliver faster, better, less costly services for residents,” Mayor Buttigieg says. “The MetroLab Network will find new, real-world applications for research that already happens right in our area, putting us at the cutting edge of innovations to improve quality of life, services, and the economy. This is the future of what it means to be a university city.”

David Murphy, Notre Dame’s associate dean of entrepreneurship for the Colleges of Engineering and Science and director of the ESTEEM Graduate Program in Entrepreneurship, will be the University’s leader in the MetroLab Network partnership. Mayor Buttigieg appointed Santiago Garces, the chief innovation officer, to oversee the partnership for the City.

“Using the latest in technology and research processes, Notre Dame and the City of South Bend will develop, initiate, and evaluate solutions for the common good of our city and our greater community,” Murphy says.

South Bend’s Office of Innovation was established in 2014 as a centralized location for data analytics, process improvement, and technology optimization. The Office focuses on analytics and performance management, innovation delivery, and strategic partnerships.

And the following release was issued by the University of Notre Dame on Monday morning:

Announced at White House Smart Cities Forum on Monday (Sept. 14), the University of Notre Dame is joining in a partnership with the City of South Bend to bring together University researchers with city officials to address critical community needs. The Notre Dame and South Bend partnership is one of more than 20 such alliances around the country.

The agreement, called the MetroLab Network, is a national consortium of university-city partnerships committed to developing ways to improve infrastructure, city services and other public sector priorities using technology and analytically based solutions.

MetroLab Network is a part of the Smart Cities Initiative, the White House administration’s focus to create smarter cities through science, technology and civic participation. The announcement was part of a gathering of university and city leaders from around the country held Monday in Washington, D.C.

“Notre Dame and South Bend will work closely together to address some of the city’s most pressing issues. Using the latest innovations in technology, Notre Dame researchers, faculty and students will develop solutions that positively impact our community,” said David Murphy, associate dean of entrepreneurship for the Colleges of Engineering and Science and director of the ESTEEM Graduate Program in Entrepreneurship. Murphy has been appointed by University leadership to lead Notre Dame’s commitment to the MetroLab Network. Murphy also noted that a key element to the MetroLab Network is scalability. “One of the interesting aspects of this Network is being able to share our efforts here in South Bend with other communities around the country. We also expect to learn a great deal from colleagues working on projects in other cities which may apply to the needs of our own community."

“This initiative puts South Bend on the national map for building one of the most advanced university-city relationships in the country. It’s an opportunity to use new technologies and ideas to deliver faster, better, less costly services for residents,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “Partnering with Notre Dame, South Bend will tap into cutting-edge thinking to provide a high quality of life and keep adding jobs in an era of tight budgets and scarce resources. This is the future of what it means to be a university city.”

The goals of the MetroLab Network are:

- To enable university-city partnerships to share their projects to ensure broad dissemination and adoption, including the development and sharing of the infrastructural tools required to support scaling promising solutions and deploying best practices across the network.

- To enable the university-city partnerships to identify common problems that can best be addressed through multi-city, multi-university approaches.

- To provide a platform for members to collaboratively plan and seek funding resources to support multi-city projects, focused on piloting solutions in multiple locations to validate and understand what works under what conditions.

City administrators will identify problems that University research and/or educational projects might address, and in turn, Notre Dame will also identify research and/or educational projects that might respond to issues within the city.
As part of the MetroLab Network agreement, city and university partners around the country will pursue opportunities in four target areas: infrastructure, city services, democratic governance and public policy and management. For the first year of this agreement, Notre Dame and the City of South Bend have identified four projects for collaboration:

- Bowman Creek Project: Create a test bed for the development of “Internet of things” applications and the relationship between these systems and people, starting with environmental applications.

- Neighborhood Report Card: Use advanced mathematical modeling to assess the effectiveness of the service portfolio of the city and suggest optimal improvements for services.

- Community-Based Research: Enhance the relationship between residents and data; improve the ability of students and residents to produce and analyze city data.
Wireless Institute: Develop an understanding of the modern environment for urban wireless users; create a test bed/framework to test the next generation of wireless technologies for urban environments.

Copyright © 2015, WSBT-TV

Published originally:
WSBT-TV (September 14, 2015)